Baseball: Semifinals in AAAAA are all-Gwinnett

High school baseball’s semifinals are a Gwinnett County-only event in Class AAAAA.

On Monday, Mill Creek plays at Parkview and Brookwood plays at Grayson, in best-of-three series that will decide which teams play for the state championship later this week.
It’s the first time that one county has claimed all four semifinal spots in Georgia baseball.

A fifth Gwinnett team, Providence Christian of Lilburn, remains in contention in Class A.

“As a Gwinnett County guy, playing my local ball here in the ‘90s, it’s outstanding to see it,’’ said Grayson head coach Seth Rhine, a graduate of Brookwood. “It’s surprising from a mathematical standpoint, but not from a talent and coaching standpoint.’’

While Gwinnett is a strong baseball county for years, Gwinnett state champions in the highest class are limited to Parkview (1996, 2001, 2002, 2011) and Brookwood (1986, 2008).

Providence Christian is attempting to extend Gwinnett’s streak to five years of having a private school win Class AA or A after Wesleyan (2008-10) and Hebron Christian (2011).

No. 1-ranked Parkview remains the team to beat in AAAAA. Center fielder Josh Hart (.393) and first baseman/pitcher Matt Olson (.384, 9 HR, 11-1 as a pitcher) are among eight returning starters from the ’11 championship team.

Parkview’s opponent, Mill Creek, is playing in its first semifinal after making three straight quarterfinals. Mill Creek, led by slugging first baseman Nick Tillman, returned only two starters, but won Region 7.

The other semifinal pits also-rans from Parkview’s Region 8. Brookwood’s ace, Lucas Sims (7-0, 1.18 ERA) is a pro prospect who throws in the mid-90s. The main offensive weapon is leadoff hitter Cedric Mullins (.426, 5 HR).

Grayson, the No. 3 seed from Region 8, is perhaps the most surprising semifinalist. Better known for its football state championship last fall, Grayson had made the quarters only one other time, in 2003.

Grayson has only one senior position player is a starter. That’s left fielder Carter Collins (.402). The most celebrated player is Austin Meadows (.402, 19 SB), a center fielder who has signed with Clemson.

Junior pitchers Taylor Allum (8-0, 1.67) and Chris Erwin (2-1, 2.51) have committed to Kennesaw State. Senior Griffin Ebel is 8-1 with a 1.39 ERA.

Six members of Grayson’s state championship football team are on the baseball team. They include Meadows, shortstop Brandon Benson, who could become the starting quarterback in the fall, and all-state defensive end Jack Banda (4-2 as a pitcher, .351 as a hitter).

‘’We expected to make a run,’’ Grayson coach Seth Rhine said. “In terms of talent, we knew we had a quality baseball team. We would’ve been highly disappointed if that run had not happened.’’

Semifinal matchups:

AAAAA

Mill Creek at Parkview

Grayson at Brookwood

AAAA

Johns Creek at Loganville

Whitewater at Greenbrier

AAA

Ringgold at Gainesville

Troup at Columbus

AA

Lovett at Pierce County

Brantley County at Appling County

A

Savannah Christian at Providence Christian

George Walton Academy at Charlton County

Format: Double-headers are Monday. A third game, if necessary, will be played Tuesday.

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bsdeca

May 21st, 2012
5:11 pm